As teachers meet the needs of students virtually, mushers are stepping up to lend a hand. Julia Cross who is the highest placing Canadian in Jr. Iditarod history has a whole list of field trip topics ready to present to students either pre-recorded or live.
Julia says, “If a teacher would like to set up a virtual field trip, he or she can send me an email and I will coordinate with them a date and format that works. All classes I do a virtual field trip with will receive a letter carried by dogsled in the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.”
At 400 miles, the Beargrease is the longest sled dog race in the lower 48 states. The trail begins in Duluth, Minnesota then runs along the north shore of Lake Superior to Grand Portage, just south of the Canadian border and then returns to Duluth. The namesake of the race carried mail between Two Harbors and Grand Marais between 1879 and 1899 using canoe, boat, horse or dog team. The race takes place the last weekend of January and fans can follow through the Beargrease webpage.
All of the field trip options are interactive. Julia says the most popular topics on the list of available options are Team Building, Meeting the Team, and Stories from the Trail. Other options include Pet Care, Winter Survival, Problem Solving, History of Dogsledding and Budget/Business Management. During the programs, students are given movement activities and team challenges.
Who is Julia Cross and how has she gained her knowledge about dogs and mushing? Cross, Canada’s top junior dog sled racer, owns and manages CrissCross Racing. She’s been mushing since the age of five. As a participant in the 2020 Jr. Iditarod Cross claimed 2nd place honors, was the top female finisher, received the Sportsmanship Award and her leader Earhardt wore the Blue Harness, an award for the best leader, home to Ontario. Julia has two 1st place finishes and a 2ndplace finish in the Junior Beargrease Sled Dog Race and has earned Rookie of the Year, Sportsmanship and Vet’s Choice trophies.
When there’s no snow for the sled, Cross participates in bikejoring, claiming the 2019 North American U18 Women’s Bikejoring Championship. Outside of racing, Julia is a dog agility and obedience trainer. As a contributor, Julia shares her perspectives on training dogs and mushing with readers of Sled Dogger Magazine. At the present she is living off grid with her sled dogs and training for the Canadian Challenge Race coming this February in Saskatchewan.
Cross is currently attending university, beginning her studies toward a field in veterinary medicine. She is building her racing kennel from impressive bloodlines with her eye on competing in the 2025 Iditarod. This year, she plans to run longer races to qualify for the Iditarod. Julia said in an OWL Connect interview, “I want to race for the rest of my life while having a job that supports it.”
Reach out to Julia via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a virtual field trip for your class. Cross doesn’t have a formal charge for her programs however the teacher and class are welcome to support the team. All donations go directly to race and dog care costs.